tv Your Business MSNBC June 2, 2012 5:30am-6:00am EDT
hi, everyone. i'm j.j. ramberg and welcome to "your business" where we give you tips and advice to help your b business grow. the culture of the company may be one of the most important yet most overlooked areas for busy small business owners, and having a strong culture helps you to hire the right people and put out the right marketing messages and steer your company with a working compass. today, we meet someone who has mastered the ideals. the next story is by far one of the most fun i have done in the past six years, and you will see why. ♪ >> it is a challenge. you have to challenge yourself. that is why we are all with no
clothes. >> three, two, one. >> new jersey, mid november, 42 degree weather and 10,000 people who are about to jump into nearly freezing water, scale balls covered in oil, and scale walls is just the beginning. welcome to tough mudder. >> it is a group of 10,000 people doing crazy things together and it is the only time in your life that you are not called out by being crazy by yourself, because you have 10,000 other people. >> and this is developed by a man who wrote the business plan while getting an mba at harvard. >> let's take elements of the special forces training and mix it up with a run and make it about teamwork and camaraderie and challenge people. >> they do challenge people. tough mudder is a 10-mile obstacle course that takes up to three hours and take it from me,
this course is tough, and it has to be about camaraderie, because frankly, you can't get through it alone. it is those two things, challenging people and teamwork that form the backbone of these events and will's company. will's goals all scenter around creature agriculture, and authentic experience that resonates with people, and inspires them to do more than they knew they could. >> why do you think that so many people are attracted to this insane event? >> i think it is called that human beings are called to challenge themselves and push their limits and do something different. something that we see is a tremendous sense of accomplishment that people have. >> it is awesome that you get dirty and the dirtier the better. a super hero. >> did you expect tough mudder to stand for something? >> well, i didn't know that it would appeal to something else, but i thought that this is something that i could see myself getting into, and one thing i was taught in business school is 95% of business is execution and 95% of that is
marketing and 95% of that is the empathy. >> will is on to something, because tough mudder does stand for something, determination, friendship, grit. will has created a brand that has absolutely transcended the event, itself. more than 10,000 people have gotten the tough mudder logo tattooed on them. >> you see the tattoos are an expression of myself, and i feel that this, you don't get it unless you complete it. >> it is the toughest race i have done so far, and it is something to commemorate the accomplishment, and something to carry with me to say, hey, i did this, you know. i was here. >> and everything that will bring s brings to the courses, he starts in the offices. within 18 months tough mudder grew from a company made up of will and his partner to having 50 employees, and while everyone is not compelled to run through fire to get to the desks, they are constantly challenged to push themselves. >> we have something called tough mudder university and do a hbs case once a month.
>> yes, you heard him correctly, once a months he tells the employees to put down the work and come together to have an intellectual discussion about a business issue based on a case study from harvard university. >> what about starbucks has made them so successful in the '90s? >> it is not just going to the starbucks for a cup of coffee, but they have couches an chairs and encouraging you to spend time there. >> and think have a book club as well, and they have read everything from "good the great." >> well, you don't not finish the book, because you have all kinds of studies including harvard work studies. >> this is something new that you are asking me to do my job and read a book and read cases from harvard business school, and why can't i just do my job?
>> it is a lot of extra work, but it is nice to know that the company is interested in developing in our own future. >> just the way you can't get over the oil-slicked wall without your peers you can't be a good employee at tough mudder without colleagues. >> the company is focused on teamwork and everything that we do is essentially as a team. we have weekly team meetings, and the idea of teamwork and camaraderie is infused throughout the company. >> and everyone is encouraged to get on the course themselves, and will has done it several times and while he enjoys it, he and other tough mudders have tough moments. >> i cannot stand the tunnels and i am bunched in tight, and i have to crawl on the belly, and for me, that is a mental challenge. >> in 2000 there were 15 events and in 2012, there will be more than 30, and expected revenue of more than $70 million. talking to the participants that
seems like a fraction of what this company will become. we asked everyone if they'd come back again and every single person told us -- >> as soon as possible. >> tough mudder! you heard me. what are you about. now, we are probably all not going to be bringing harvard business school cases to work or running through fire, but there are definitely things that we should all be doing to make sure we have a strong company culture. let's turn to this week's board of directors. yawnic silber is head of the business ventures and we are also joined by author of "build yourself solid," michael salder. this is so much fun, and one, it is the most fun i have had, but two, because will has created a incredibly strong culture and has a group of
20-something-year-olds, and i went to business school and suddenly my heart was pounding like he is going to cold call me. and it makes everyone love him and the time he takes to develop them makes them love the company. and we all can't do that and we are all not going to take a time-out to do a business school case, and what can we do? >> e w it is about the culture, whether it is the customers or the people who are working there. and they have this desire to be more than they currently are, and i have a feeling that his hiring practices, he is looking for those people, and that he is not just, hey, anybody who wants to work here can work here and then we will put together these hard core learning opportunities, et cetera. these are probably people who want to be superstars just like in the package you heard the woman say, i do this, because i want to be a superhero, right? >> andianic, i said this in the introduction to this, but i feel it is one of the most neglected
piece for business owners is the culture? >> well, it is funny, because hayed a company that was a one-man-band and i thought that the chul ur was b.s. and didn't matter, but now that i know how much more powerful it is, it can be everything if you want to have a big impact in the world with your business. they have a great culture there, and the thing about it is that it is polarizing and the people who love it, they love it and become zealots and begins with the internal customers are emp plo i y employees. >> and how do you do that? >> you have to have something specific, and you are willing to shout it from the rooftops and you are creating an environment that is cooler, and people want to be part of the club. when you look at the people who are participating on this, they are putting tattoos on the body, because they feel -- not the employees and that is not a requirement, but for the customers, that level of commitment means that you are
part of the club. are on the in the circle and it starts with story telling, and this is specific, and not running a mare than or going to the gym to workout where it is air conditioned, but only special people can do this and only special people can work heres a well. >> what i found so compelling about this is that will believes it so deeply and he believes in what he does for the customers and for his employees so deeply that it makes it easy for him, i think to build this culture. >> it does. i think that when we worked together high level executives and entrepreneurs and it is the shared intense experience brings them together and like michael said, the tattoos and you see that as an indicator and people put tattoos of apple or harley-davidson or jack daniels or brands that matter to them, they are doing something right here, because the brand matters to them. >> yes.
>> and by the way, i don't think that we put this in the piece, but they started the company with $20,000 of their own money. $70 million in revenue next year. >> i am so jealous. >> it is a real success story. thank you, yanic and michael for helping us with this. more and more of your customers are using their smartphones to get information about things, and so here are five ways to make sure that your website is ready for mobile visitors courtesy of mashable.com. number five, keep it simple. users visiting your mobile site are looking for information and service fast. keep the navigation to a minimum and focus on providing the top things that customers need. four, don't use a lot of images. large images slow down your page and get rid of the images on the home page except the ones that are necessary. and three, design mobile handsets and don't assume that everyone has a mobile phone or
android. design your site to look good for anyone's phone. and use an m.url to help google organize your site from a standard one. and number one, test and listen to the feedback. use the dw google's gomo site to listen to customers about their complaints and suggestions. sometimes entrepreneurs get so caught up on wanting the sale they lose sight of getting business at all costs is not worth it. in fact, the next guest says that you are worth ditching customers who bring you down and take you away from the really good clients. margie is the organizer of a full event catering company and author of the book "but are you making money?" stop making business and start creating cash. thank you for being with me. >> thank you for having me on.
>> and i love that. we need to know how to do it. >> well, i will tell you how the do it, and it is great, but when it comes to the conversation, ugh. >> and you don't want them to start bad mouthing you. >> well, you have to be careful and i i liken it to when you want to fire an employee and you can't do it tomorrow, but you have to lay the foundation. and lay the foundation and having a conversation with them, and i notice that we have this contract and continuously outside of the parameters and maybe i was not clear about the parameters and getting them engaged and teeing them up that there is an issue and the nex part about it is creating a script like you have to have a script in your mind so that you know what you are grog the say. because it is all tof sof the s the client is here, ugh, ugh, and it is not easy. you have to really be prepared for what you are going to say. >> if you know what you are going to say, and you have to kind of prak ctice it a little t and have solutions for the customer. you can't say, i am firing you.
because that is when they will bad mouth you, because nobody wants the ego bruised and left high and dry, so you have to come up with options like, here are a couple of companies that are options with you and they have room on the calendar and maybe it is the biggest competition and this person is high maintenance, send them their way. >> and? a which to engage with them. and a lot of times they are your advocate if they have a client that is not a match. sometimes it is a personality thing, and maybe it is timing or personality and something is not gelling, but it is your job as a professional to get the best for the customer, and if it is not a match, give them options to move on. >> and this anticipated objections is writing the script, and you to be prepared. >> the anticipating the objections is crucial. you have to come up with what are the top three things that they are going to say to you, because they don't want to be fired most likely or they would have fired themselves as clients. so they are going to say, but wait, i thought i could do that
within the parameters and anticipate the objections and come up with a couple of believable answers and then you have to practice them. the first time you go the fire a client, it cannot be in front of the client. i can't stress that enough. >> and don't waiver. as i read all of these, firing a client and breaking up with the boyfriend. >> well, it is really all of the same thing, but then you can't waiver. and remember, if you are firing a client, because they are a bully or maybe because they were kind of really going outside of the parameters of the contract, they are used to this, right. they are going to this, if well, if i apply more pressure, the person is going to cave, and you cannot cave. you have to say, i made up my mind and be calm and nonemotional and coming back to the fact that this is not a great match and you want them to have the best experience and they are not going to have it with you. >> and the real key, too, is remember in your own resolve and if you have gotten to this point, and going to fire and getting rid of money coming in, it is bad. >> and how many times right in
the middle of the situation whether it is the boyfriend or anything else, okay, if i give it one more chance, you can't, because every time you give it one more chance, you are closing yourself off to the really amazing customers out there who are going to be a great fit for you and not feel like pushing the water uphill. the wrong clients are like pushing a water uphill and they take time a wai way from your ct clients. >> yes. >> and then everything suffers because it is one bad apple is spoiling the whole bunch. >> marley, this is great advice. >> thanks for having me. and still to come, a exterminating company that is using dogs to sniff out bedbugs is itching for new customers. and you are never too young to start new businesses as the under 30-somethings started new businesses. ♪ she was a young american
you know, those farmers, those foragers, those fishermen.... for me, it's really about building this extraordinary community. american express is passionate about the same thing. they're one of those partners that i would really rely on whether it's finding new customers, or, a new location for my next restaurant. when we all come together, my restaurants, my partners, and the community amazing things happen. to me, that's the membership effect. generation y has the entrepreneurial spirit. according the a recent study by the company millennial brand in the job title ofl owner was the fifth most popular one listed by people under 30 on facebook. a bit ago we caught up with two
young entrepreneurs whose businesses are booming. ♪ i'm just a girl ♪ take a good look at me >> sophia drifted from job to job before she became her own boss. when she started her san francisco vintage clothing company nasty gal at 22, she had no money, no college degree and no small business experience. >> i was almost forced into this to survive and to find something that i enjoyed doing. >> amy has never had the chance to work for anyone else, because she started her business when she was 11. >> all i have ever done is work for myself. it would be really hard for me to get used to working for somebody else. >> both women are young entrepreneurs with successful internet businesses, and after enjoying the freedom of being the boss neither can imagine ever working any other way. >> amaroso always had a sense of
fashion and unique style and parlayed it into the nasty galvin taj. >> i would auction off stuff for $200 or $300 depending how many people were interested and hard to find. >> it comes from the 20-something fashionistas who follow the trend-setting website, alnd following social media, she has built up customers following myspace and twitter. with a thriving business on ebay, she started to get the restless feeling that led her from job to job and ebay was crimping her style. so she decided to leave the internet and go to start her own line nasty gal.com. and now they sell trendy new clothing alongside the vintage duds and she is racing to keep up with demand. >> the business is growing, you
know, at a pretty alarming rate. it is actually growing faster than we can control. it is pretty insane. >> lanni's pennsylvania company simple sugars is also grappling with a fast-growing business, and five years into her natural scrub company, she has juggled running her business and going to school in is um many -- summers off. >> i get up and go to school and i don't get home until 7:30 at night and i still have homework and simple sugars work to do. >> with products in the local whole foods and thriving business online, the time has come for her to relocate simple sugars out of the parents' basement, and the next move is renting office space and hiring employees and bilg steps for a teenager running a business in the spare time. >> it is too much volume for me
to handle by myself. >> ron morris, author of entrepreneurial studies at duquesne university and host of the radio show american entrepreneurs says that her business is exciting because of her, and without it, it would be just another cosmetic company, and so morris gave her some surprising advice. >> i said if i were you, i would drop out of school immediately and spend the next year or two trying to push this company over the top, because as i said to, he i said right now, you have one shot in ten of hitting a home run. >> and although it may seem to break all of the conventional rules to become a full time entrepreneur like sophia s and put hee schoigh school on hold,s what entrepreneurs do best, put school on hold. >> i want to take advantage of
the simply sugars, but i don't want to give away the high school experience, but i have a lot to learn from taking a year off and working on my business. that would be equally as valuable as what i could learn in a year at school. >> it is time now to answer some of your business questions. michael and yanic are with us once again. the first question is about new employees. >> what are effective training strategies for new employees to get them into the mix of the company and make them as productive as possible in the beginning? >> well, for both of you, this is particularly interesting in the context of this show, because once you get somebody in, you want the train them in their tasks and in the culture of the company, so yanic, what are ingi strategies? >> well, we are wrapped up about
the great employee and forget about them when we bring them n and it is just as important to have a first 100 days or the first 60 days to really re-emphasize what they came in for and share the vision and the big picture of what they are building that something is bigger than them, and also think about not micromanaging but how are they independent and give them mastery of their tasks that they can go on to be part of something bigger. >> yes. >> and i think that it starts with good hiring. >> yes. >> you hire slowly, right. >> yep. >> and what is the indicator of future performance? past performance, and you work out a way to get the people to do the work that they did before you hired them initially, so it is the probationary period and the long -term training and not get them up to speed in two weeks and off on their own, so everybody should have a mentor within the organization. >> that is a great idea and one thing within my company which is small enough to do this, but any time somebody new comes the first couple of days they meet and sit down with every single
person in the company, because weeks and months could go by and you realize that they have not spoken to each other. >> and you can bring them into the decision-making process. i send an e-mail to the team, what is working and what needs to improve? they feel comfortable saying, michael, you are totally messing this thing up, you are hard to work with here and whatever it is. if you don't feel like you can do that with the people you work for, it is not a good place to work. >> good for you, because that is something about your personality, too. okay. going to the next question, we are service providers for a canine service to find pests. and we need to increase branding and success, and what would you have to help us achieve this business goal. so to explain that in english, i believe this company uses dogs to sniff out bedbugs, and yanic, for people who don't know about the service or know that you can do this, how do they get the
message across? >> the branding and the awareness and he does not need the branding right now, because it is a service that the people need it when they need it and nobody is thinking about bedbugs unless they have that issue, so that means he needs to show up in places where they are searching which is obviously online and going for the long tail key words like bedbug elimination or bedbug infestation or whatever, and then taking off by the regions, too, and he needs that. then he will double up with the branding and when he shows up at the site, there is a good looking site and what they are doing and the unique proposition is, but not beforehand, but at the point of the problem. >> really great problem, and a big search engine marketing strategy. >> nobody cares that it is dogs doing the sniffing. i don't care. i have bedbugs and get rid of them and i don't care how you do it. and to focus about that is not them, but the customer. so google places, and be local in the search and do a lot of
the paper clicking. >> and on the dog front maybe they need testimonials and get somebody on the site, we can get rid of the bedbugs and then the customer testimonials. >> and it is still results and not how you get there. >> right. once they hit the site, that is when it matters about the dogs, right, because that is the benefit they are showing them that it is nonfumigating or whatever the reason is. >> okay. this is the next one, a question about starting your business. >> is there a wrong place to launch your business in the united states? in other words, is there one place that is better for you like silicon valley or launch a business in florida? >> i love this question. >> well, if you want real estate, florida is not a great place right now, yes. so it is conditional, and there are market conditions and tax conditioning and lifestyle conditions that are needed to be considered and where do you want to live? hiring considerations and what kind of workforce conditions do
you have in that area. not just one question. >> and do you believe that silicon valley is great with a tech company because of the resources or no? >> well, exactly like michael said. it is conditional and depends what you want to do and who the marketplace is and why you are starting the business, but as far as i know, there's been successful businesses in all states of the union here. i think that we will continue to have it that way. >> and what you could do then is to list down what you need and can you get it in the city or the town that you are going in. >> and i like michael's idea about lifestyle, what is important for you and make that list, j.j., exactly. >> thank you guys for all of the advice and this is incredibly helpful. if you have a question for the experts go to the website, and the address is openforum.com/your business, and there hit the ask the show link to ask a question for the panel. and again, the address is
openforum.com/your business. or you can e-mail us your comments and questions as well. when launching a new product or entering a new market, gauging potential demand is key. if you need help from getting feedback from the potential audience, get the website of the week. you need tools to help create and send out surveys to the customers. you can use susamp.com. to learn more about the show today go to our website openforum.com/your business. you will find all of the information we talked about today and more web content to help your business grow. and become a fan on facebook, because we love your feedback. and follow us on twitter.
it is @yourbusiness.msnbc. and who is telling you to do that. >> we will tell you why she wants her customers to get the most personalized service possible. >> until next week, remember we make your business our business. they have names like idle time books and smash records and on small business saturday they remind a nation of the benefits of shopping small. on just one day, 100 million of us joined a movement... and main street found its might again.
and main street found its fight again. and we, the locals, found delight again. that's the power of all of us. that's the power of all of us. that's the membership effect of american express. in 2010 the midterm elections went red in a huge way. not just at the federal level but way more importantly than the beltway acknowledges, the country in 2010 really went red in the states. republicans gained hundreds a and hundreds of seats in state legislatures after the 2010 election. there were more republican state legislatures in the country than at any time since 1928. a minority of states, republicans controlled majorities. in 16 states republicans had the whole legislature and the governorship.